Rugby News

Rugby-Eden Park set for Bledisloe with Auckland COVID-19 curbs to be lifted

WELLINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Auckland’s Eden Park has been confirmed as the venue for the second Bledisloe Cup test between New Zealand and Australia on Oct. 18 after the government said it would lift COVID-19 restrictions for the city this week.

The venue had been pencilled in pending the lifting of restrictions imposed in August following an outbreak in the city after more than 100 days of no community transmission nationwide.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday the restrictions would be lifted at 11.59 p.m. (1059 GMT) on Wednesday, bringing the city in line with the rest of the country and allowing Eden Park to host the game with no restrictions on crowd size.

Otago Regional Stadium in Dunedin had been placed on standby if the restrictions were not lifted.

Ardern added that while masks would not be required under the new alert level, those attending the game should be mindful of possible further outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

“We definitely want people scanning (their COVID-tracking app) and taking note of where they are sitting,” she told reporters in Christchurch.

“We want them washing their hands. We definitely don’t want them attending if they are feeling unwell.”

The August outbreak forced New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to cancel the final match of Super Rugby Aotearoa between the Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders and shift the ‘North-South’ game to Wellington.

“Auckland fans missed out on both (matches) ... so this is positive news that they will be able to enjoy test match rugby,” NZR’s head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said in a statement.

Wellington Regional Stadium will host the first game on Sunday and Lendrum said almost 28,000 tickets had been sold. The stadium has a permanent capacity of 34,500.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford